Being Yorkshire born and bred, I may be slightly biased, but this is the most beautiful and definitely the best county in the UK… All four corners of the county will be putting on a show for the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire this weekend. We can look forward to some of the best British and international cycling talent taking to the roads over three challenging stages. Today the cycling kicked off with an outing from Bridlington to Scarborough.
Kittel less than happy with Cote de Dalby Forest – Image ©www.chrismaher.co.uk | CyclingShorts.cc
The stage got underway in seaside town of Bridlington the route passed through spectacular coastal scenery and the iconic North York Moors landscapes with no less than five King of the Mountains (KoM) peaks and two sprint opportunities along the course.
The teams rode along the Flamborough Head Heritage Coast before turning away from the coast into the North York Moors National Park, through Dalby Forest hitting the first KoM of the day at the Cote de Dalby Forest and this first test seemed to take it’s toll on some of the riders. Sprinter Marcel Kittel became unhitched from the main peloton and found himself in a small group as he zipped up his top to descend the climb. His face said it all, but he wasn’t the only rider disliking the Yorkshire hills.
Team Sky were dominant from early on in the race after reeling in a breakaway that held a lead of 3 minutes. Sky controlled the peloton until they hit the recently drizzled roads of Egton and Grosmont. The Team Sky train appeared not to adjust their descending style to match the wet conditions and slid across the road at the start of the drop.
In doing so they took out a number of other teams riders behind them. Ben Swift of Team Sky went down heavily and subsequently had to retire from the race. The riding became a little more tentative as teams got themselves back on each others wheels. The lack of race radio did mean riders had to be more team aware, though none of the riders up front would have known of the retirements behind them. Team Sky were now down to 4 riders on the front of the peloton and less able to control the situation. One rider took advantage of the chaos at the front, on the penultimate slope of the day; the Cote de Briggswath, the Europcar rider Perrig Quemeneur went out on his own and made the most of it by mopping us some more sprint points.
The race took a spectacular journey back to the coast at Whitby. By the time they reached Robin Hood’s Bay Quemeneur had been caught and a sizeable group of around 15 riders including; Voeckler, Sanchez and two Team Sky riders. Steve Cummings got caught out by the break and furiously tried to get up to them to no avail. Over the crest of the Cote de Robin Hood’s Bay 15 had been whittled down to 5 riders with a lead of over 30 seconds, they had over a minute back to the peloton. The splinter group contained some dangerous riders; Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team), Stephane Rossato (Cofidis Solutions Credits), Philip Diegnan & Lars-Petter Nordhaug (both Team Sky). Initially the two French riders (Voeckler and Rossato) seemed to work together to test and attempt to break the Sky riders.
Lars-Petter Nordhaug wins Stage 1 of the Tour de Yorkshire 2015 – Image ©www.chrismaher.co.uk | CyclingShorts.cc
Image ©www.chrismaher.co.uk | CyclingShorts.cc
The race ended in the ultimate sprint finish on the seafront at Scarborough, the five riders went down to the line with Team Sky using team tactics with a one-two attack. Rossetto showed he had more in the tank starting the sprint lead out, he was overtaken by Nordhaug with Voeckler on his tail. A thrilling end to what looks to be an unpredictable Tour.
Perrig Quemeneur took the Pink Climbers Jersey and the Grey Most Aggressive Rider which is voted for by the public via Twitter, unfortunately for Eddie Dunbar he won the vote but was caught up in the crash and had to retire. So the jersey passed to Quemeneur.
Results after Stage 1
1.NOR NORDHAUG Lars-Petter 16 TEAM SKY 04h 22′ 28”
2.FRA VOECKLER Thomas 71 TEAM EUROPCAR 04h 22′ 32”+ 00′ 04”
3.FRA ROSSETTO Stéphane 97 COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 04h 22′ 34”+ 00′ 06”
4.ESP SANCHEZ Samuel 36 BMC RACING TEAM 04h 22′ 38”+ 00′ 10”
5.IRL DEIGNAN Philip 13 TEAM SKY 04h 22′ 38”+ 00′ 10”
6.FRA TURGIS Anthony 98 COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 04h 23′ 46”+ 01′ 18”
7.BEL VAN AVERMAET Greg 31 BMC RACING TEAM 04h 23′ 48”+ 01′ 20”
8.GBR ROWSELL Erick 146 MADISON GENESIS 04h 23′ 48”+ 01′ 20”
9.GBR HANDLEY Richard 135 JLT CONDOR 04h 23′ 48”+ 01′ 20”
10.NED DUYN Huub 103 ROOMPOT ORANJE PELOTON 04h 23′ 48”+ 01′ 20”
Arguably the most spectacular and visually stimulating of the three Grand Tours the 96th edition of the Giro d’Italia has been described as a hybrid route which transcends the boundaries between a wholly climbers race and a TT specialist’s. Last year’s Giro was perhaps the most stimulating of all Grand Tours with a surprise but worthy winner in Ryder Hesjedal and this year’s looks to emulate that with a dramatic race from Naples to Brescia over 3405 kilometres.
The stellar cast of riders including last year’s Maglia Rosa, Tour winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, recent Giro Del Trentino victor Vincenzo Nibali and a host of other contenders for the General Classification including Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso(!), Michele Scarponi, Samuel Sanchez and Robert Gesink certainly whets the appetite for a fine race to Brescia on the 27th of May. This coupled with sprinters Mark Cavendish, Nacer Bouhanni, Matthew Goss, Sacha Modolo and Roberto Ferrari ensures that this will be a delight of a race from start to finish.
The ebb and flow of a stage race is perhaps no more in evidence than at the Giro. This coupled with the fantastic landscape theatre in which it is played out in, ensures that it is a delight to view. The stage profiles suggest the route builds through the first two weeks (as any good Grand Tour should) to the final few outrageous mountain stages over the Passo Gavia, the Stelvio and the Passo Giau. Stages 4, 7 and 9 are the ones to definitely tune in for early on the race with a nice mix of terrain to suit both puncheurs and overall contenders keen to steal an early march on their opponents. Stage 7 to Pescara and its important port and marina is sure to excite typical breakaway specialists but the terrain could promote a sprint at a push and is likely to stir John Degenkolb’s Argos Shimano and Nacer Bouhanni’s FDJ team into action.
The route of the 2013 Giro
The key aspect of the majority of the mountain stages, back loaded into the second and third weekend, is their relatively short length. Take for example Stage 15, Sunday 19th May where the race heads over the Mont Ceris and then the Telegraphe before the final, tougher ascent to the Col Du Galibier the opposite side to Andy Schleck’s 60km solo escape to win Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France; a stage which is only 149km long and will undoubtedly be raced rapidly from the off. By the start of stage 20 we may well already know whether Bradley Wiggins has coped with the steeper Italian ascents in comparison to the long steady climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees, and perhaps more importantly whether Team Sky’s mass on the front riding has worked to the extent that it has done in the past. So, as the road rises to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo a final nail may have been hammered into Wiggins’ coffin by messers Nibali, Betancur, Pozzovivo and Sanchez.
To finish; some (ill-informed and widely speculative) predictions. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mauro Santambrogio going well in the GC, if only for a top 5 or top 10. Moving to Vini Fantini from BMC at the end of 2012 has reaped its rewards for the 28 year old Italian, with 7th at Tirreno Adriatico and 2nd at the Giro Del Trentino . Certainly his team isn’t as strong as the other overall favourites, his Grand Tour form isn’t spectacular, and I’m not convinced by his time trailing capabilities (76th and 54th in his two ITT’s this year), but the Giro more often than not throws up a surprise contender.
The changing of the GC guard is evident in the fact that old powers like Ivan Basso, Cadel Evans and Michele Scarponi aren’t getting any younger and in the early to mid stage of the decent of their careers. The nearly man Robert Gesink could go close if on top form and he avoids crashes and if not him or Santambrogio then certainly Benat Intxausti looks well placed for a Top 10 finish. Finishing 10th last year at the incredibly difficult Vuelta, perhaps marked a breakthrough for the 27th year old. Whether he will ride for JJ Cobo, the Vuelta winner of 2011 remains to be seen but certainly his form has been building nicely since an 8th in the overall at the Tour of the Basque Country and 4th at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta. He can time trial too, which could help limit his losses in the mountains.
Meanwhile, Wiggins’ form, although not as spectacular as last season, certainly looks solid with an ill-timed mechanical arguably the only difference between himself and Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro Del Trentino. He also looked comfortable on the steeper climbs that epitomize Trentino and his time trialing will have undoubtedly remained flawless. Ryder Hesjedal looked mean and lean in Liege Bastogne Liege although his prevalence as an overall contender opposed to last year could be his undoing.
As ever there will be Italians who emerge into the spotlight of the wild Tifosi as Matteo Rabottini did last year so spectacularly. Stefano Pirazzi is sure to be one to watch for attacking in the mountains along with the ever excitable Vacansoleil, the wonderfully entitled Vini Fantini and the other Pro Continental outfits of Team Colombia, Androni-Venezuela and Bardini Vavole – CSF Inox, who are sure to animate things from the off.
My Giro d’Italia Top 5:-
- Vincenzo Nibali
- Bradley Wiggins
- Ryder Hesjedal
- Robert Gesink
- Mauro Santambrogio
Stage Win – Stefano Pirazzi
White Jersey – Wilco Kelderman
Fingers crossed for a passionate, exciting and unpredictable Giro!